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Sphynx cats are a gorgeous, but very different looking, breed of cat that’s still relatively rare. However, with their growing popularity, especially among cat lovers with allergies, more and more people wonder if any limitations come with hairlessness. One of the most common questions for these hairless wonders is can Sphynx cats go outside?
Sphynx cats can go outside. Hairless cats usually can’t survive outside on their own. Monitoring your cat, providing access to clean water, and providing shade can help limit sunburns and overheating.
There are many things you need to consider before taking your cat outside, from their risk of sunburn to overheating and pests. We’ll cover all the most important considerations for Sphynx cats in the outdoors and some more general tips for outdoor and indoor/outdoor cats.
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Can Sphynx Cats Overheat
This question is even more important than whether or not your hairless Sphynx will get sunburned. Temperature control should be one of your biggest concerns if you own a Sphynx, whether you’re taking them outside or keeping them 100% indoors.
That’s because the genetic variant that gives them their (mostly) hairless skin is a random mutation that first occurred naturally and then was bred back into shorthair populations until there was a stable and healthy population of hairless cats.
Since the trait was intentionally bred for, it doesn’t offer an evolutionary advantage. Unlike traits that are selected for in natural evolution, traits that are bred for exist whether they are advantageous or not, and hairlessness does cause some risks for cats that aren’t good for them (unless it wins them a loving home, then it’s a great trade-off).
As part of that trade-off, Sphynx cats tend to produce a little more body-heat than other cats, but they aren’t as good at temperature regulation. They tend to get cold much easier than other cats and can get too warm if you don’t take the right precautions in the summer.
Your sphynx can easily overheat if you don’t manage their temperature closely.
Watch for your Sphynx to start breathing through their mouth, or redness in their ears. Both are signs that your cat has started to overheat and needs to cool off quickly. If your Sphynx’s eyes start watering or it looks like they are crying, that’s another sign that they are beginning to overheat.
Fortunately, Sphynx cats often like to go for a good swim, and most tolerate being rinsed off with gentle water or a wet towel. A small kiddie pool or quick sponge bath can both help your Sphynx recover from an accidental overheat.
Your Sphynx may also hop in your backyard pool (if you have one). Just make sure you rinse them off afterward, all those chemicals can irritate their sensitive skin.
Can Sphynx Cats Get Sunburn
Yes, Sphynx cats can get sunburned. They’re relatively prone to them. But you don’t want to slather them with sunscreen like you can with your skin.
Clothes aren’t a good option either, since they are prone to overheating in the summer when they are most likely to get a sunburn.
Instead, try to limit your Sphynx’s exposure to intense sunlight. They can build up a slight tan with exposure, but it’s better to avoid sunlight that might be too bright.
If you’re letting your Sphynx out in the middle of the day, try to stick to shady areas and only stay outside for a few minutes.
A better option is to take your Sphynx out in the evening or early in the morning. Just remember that if it’s cold enough outside that you need to wrap up, your cat should probably have some clothes.
Cat Sunburn Treatment
Sunburns can be severe problems for cats, especially severe sunburns. If your cat has a significant sunburn, get them to a vet right away. They’ll be able to give you some tips for managing your cat’s discomfort and tips on how you can treat your cat’s skin and help them heal.
Cold compresses can help relieve the pain from sunburn in the short term, but you may need a more powerful prescription cortisone cream if it’s a serious burn.
The unfortunate reality is that a bad sunburn can be fatal for your cat. Intravenous fluids can help them re-hydrate, and other treatments can help keep them more comfortable, but it’s hard to help cats heal.
It is best to avoid sunburns as much as possible when it comes to your Sphynx.
Do Sphynx Cats Get Cold
Have you ever seen the adorable pictures of Sphynx cats in sweaters? Well, those sweaters are there for a reason!
Sphynx cats can get cold. Even though they tend toward a higher than average body temperature, they are also prone to getting too cold since their skin doesn’t have much insulation. The little bit of peach fuzz on some Sphynx cats’ skin isn’t nearly enough to help them retain heat.
If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your Sphynx. It’s a great idea to have clothes for your Sphynx, whether its clothing is designed for a cat or modified toddler clothing.
Start your cat with clothing early. Even if it helps them be more comfortable, your cats will probably fight putting on a sweater unless they get used to it more easily.
You probably won’t ever be able to cover all of your Sphynx. After all, they can’t exactly unbutton a pair of pants when they need to go to the bathroom. But it should be relatively simple to cover their front legs, chest, and stomach.
Even with clothes on, you should make sure you monitor your cat closely. Sphynx cats will start shivering if they get cold, and they might curl up into a ball or start looking for a patch of sunlight if they get too cold.
It’s also important to wash your Sphynx’s clothes regularly. They have naturally oily skin, and it can cause irritation if there is too much oil in their clothes—plan on washing with a mild-unscented detergent to avoid other irritation sources.
Do You Have To Moisturize Sphynx Cats
Since Sphynx cats are hairless, another common question is whether you need to moisturize their skin just like you moisturize your face. Yes! Though, you don’t want to use the same products on your skin that you use on your Sphynx.
One of the most important things you can do is to wash your Sphynx regularly. Without washing your Sphynx, they’ll get oily buildup on their skin. But wash them too often, and their skin can get dry.
It’s a good idea to wash your Sphynx and then moisturize as well.
There are plenty of cat-specific products out there, from lotions to sprays and even anti-dandruff wipes. You’ll probably want to have two or three different products, one you can use as a maintenance moisturizer and a heavier moisturizer to treat dry skin.
Moisturizing can also help prevent sun damage and can help your cat’s skin recover from just a little bit too much time in the sun.
It’s also a good idea to moisturize your Sphynx if they’ve taken a dip in the pool, especially if it’s a chemically treated pool.
Do Sphynx Cats Get Fleas
Unfortunately, yes. Your Sphynx can get fleas just like any other cat. It is a little easier to spot fleas on your sphynx’s skin unless they’re hiding in a small fold.
If you groom your cat regularly, you’ll quickly spot fleas and help your cat prevent them. The problem is that fleas don’t necessarily stay attached unless they’re actively feeding on your cat. If you have carpeting, the fleas might make their home in the carpet and only attach themselves to your cat (and you!) when it’s time for a meal.
Always keep an eye out for fleas on your Sphynx, even if they don’t go outside. Fleas are small enough that they can jump through window screens. They can also get tracked into your home on shoes, furniture, and almost everything else.
Unless you live somewhere without fleas, vigilance can help protect your cat’s health and your own.
Bathing your Sphynx can remove their fleas. You can also pluck them off individually with your fingers or a pair of tweezers. Just be careful not to pinch your Sphynx’s skin.
If you live somewhere fleas are common, talk to your vet about preventative treatments to help your Sphynx stay healthy and avoid flea infestations.
Can Sphynx Cats Be Left Alone Outside
Sphynx cats aren’t a good breed to leave alone outside. Their hairlessness means that they are prone to sunburns and can’t regulate their internal temperature very well.
Anytime you let your Sphynx outside, you should be outside with them. There is an exception if you have a cattio or another space where your Sphynx has a lot of protection for the sunlight, and where they can come inside whenever they like.
Just make sure there is always enough water available for your Sphynx to drink, and maybe even a small pool so that they can cool off if they start to get a little too warm.
Your Sphynx isn’t a very good indoor/outdoor cat. They can get around outside, alright, and they’ll remember where home is just like other cats, but they may not always realize when they need to come inside.
So, keep your Sphynx supervised and preferably on the leash at all times when they are outside. They’ll be much healthier for it.
Don’t try to get a Sphynx as an outdoor cat or a barn cat. They simply aren’t built for that kind of lifestyle, and it will be hard to keep them comfortable.
Can An Indoor Cat Survive Outside
Speaking more generally now, can your indoor cat survive outside?
Well, that depends a lot on the cat. Some cats are well suited to outdoor life, but other cats will struggle outside. It can be hard to tell which cats will succeed and which cats will struggle if you expect them to live outside.
While hairless breeds like the Sphynx generally don’t do very well outdoors, most other breeds can succeed outside. Breed mostly matters when you consider what kinds of climate your cat is well adapted to. An Egyptian Mau is unlikely to thrive in an alpine forest, for instance, while a Manx probably won’t do very well in a desert.
If you live in a climate that your cat can thrive in, the next thing to consider is their personality. Is your cat naturally aloof, cautious, and active? They might do well outdoors, especially if they are already a hunter and help keep your home pest-free.
But if your cat is more sedentary, doesn’t show a lot of interest in hunting bugs or rodents, or is very affectionate and clingy, you may want to reconsider having them as an indoor/outdoor cat much less an entirely outdoor cat.
You should also pay attention to how smart your cat is. Intelligent cats often do better outside because they avoid roads and listen to their natural instincts to avoid other predators and walking around in the open.
It’s just as important to remember that even the best outdoor cats still live with some risk, and most outdoor cats live shorter lives than indoor cats. There are just more risks and hazards to life in the great outdoors than life in the comforts of your home.
So, while some indoor cats can survive outside, others are likely to struggle.
Is It Bad To Let My Indoor Cat Outside
It’s hard to describe letting an indoor cat outside as good or bad. Just letting them outside on a leash, for instance, has hardly any effect. While abandoning a cat outside and away from their home is very definitely a bad thing, but that’s as much about how they are left outside as being outside itself.
Instead of calling it bad or good, instead, think of letting your cat outside as a decision you should make carefully.
When you let your cat outside, you’re running several risks, especially the first few times they venture out on their own. Here are some of the risks to consider:
- They might get lost
- Your cat might not know what to do if you live near a major roadway
- They may not know how to avoid a raptor or other predators
- Your cat will likely over-hunt the local birds and rodents
- They might get fleas or other pests and need medical attention
Your cats might be okay if you let them outside. Or they might not. It’s hard to predict how well they’ll do.
It’s also important to know that outdoor cats can cause serious harm to the ecosystems around them, especially cats that are new to being outside. Their hunting and play instincts will lead them to hunt and kill more than they can eat (if they are successful) and can drastically change the micro-ecosystems in their territory.
You should also make sure that your cat is fixed before they get outside. Intact cats can have dozens of offspring literally in a year, and can quickly outbreed their environment, leading to illness and hunger for all the cats, including yours.
Even if your cat is indoor-outdoor, they need to be fixed before being allowed outdoors. Otherwise, your female may come home pregnant, and your male may come home an unwitting father.
How Do You Transition An Indoor Cat To Outside
If you need to transition your cat to living outside, it’s incredibly important to transition them slowly. Start with taking them outside under supervision to see how they do.
After you’re confident that your cat will do well outside, it’s time to switch to letting them go outside without you. Before you let them out, you should prepare some supplies for your cat. A kennel, cat bed, or even the inside of a large container should be put outside. It should have a blanket that smells like your home so that they can warm up and go somewhere to feel safe.
You should also make sure that your cat has a clean water source outside and knows where it is. Kibble is another excellent resource for your cat, but it’s important to leave the kibble in the garage (with a cat-door) or somewhere else that pests are less likely to get it.
Finally, after a few weeks of the indoor/outdoor life, your cat is ready to transition to living full time outdoors.
Just remember that not all cats are suited to outdoor life. See how they do, and monitor it as closely as possible to make sure your beloved pet is safe, happy, and healthy.